Vodafone has begun trials of a new wireless payment system which will enable consumers in the UK, Germany and Italy to pay for goods and services using their mobile phones.
Payments on Vodafone’s trial global mobile payment platform will be made through established payment instruments such as credit cards, debit cards or electronic direct debit for larger purchases. However, the system also enables wireless operators to internalise the payments through their own billing systems, opening up a potential threat to bank payment networks.
During the trials, Vodafone customers will be identified by their mobile device during online transactions and will be able to confirm and authorise each purchase via a PIN code. The customer’s payment and address details are kept in a secure "wallet", requiring no direct entry of data over the Internet.
Over time, Vodafone says it will extend the functionality of the platform to service purchase points such as vending machines as well as to fixed retail shops.
Thomas Geitner, chief executive, global products and services, Vodafone Group, says: "We want our customers to be able to use their mobiles as a payment tool, so ultimately, they will be able to pay for services and make purchases in shops or when they’re online."
The company says full commercial service for the UK, Germany and Italy, serving more than 50m Vodafone customers will commence later this year. Additional European countries will be brought onstream thereafter.
Vodafone says it is consulting with banks and payment service providers across Europe and will develop open interfaces to all major payment networks.